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Quest for the Blade of Ataros-Part I
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Falotar



Joined: 22 Jan 2001
Posts: 2579
Location: Yaro'on the Fair

 PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2001 11:45 pm    Post subject: Quest for the Blade of Ataros-Part I Reply with quote Back to top

CHAPTER 6: GOBLINS, GOBLINS EVERYWHERE!
Divinia leaned over Darnath. Tauridus hovered nearby, and Kliven stood, frowning.
"What is it?" asked Tauridus with anxiety.
"Poison," returned Divinia.
"Can you cure it?"
She shook her head. "Dauros is not Agrela, and I am no Healer. Still, I will do what I may. Do you, perchance, bear a healing potion?"
"No," he replied, despairing. Then he brightened. "But maybe he does. Rangers carry them often."
"Yes," Divinia responded sourly. She searched Darnath's body, and drew out a flask. Prying open his jaws, she poured the contents down. Slowly, his cheeks lost their sickly pallor.
"Wha- what happened?" he asked.
"Gently," cautioned Divinia, suddenly tender. "You are yet weak from the poison."
"So that's- what happened." He paused, then said, "Let me see the arrow."
Kliven held it forth.
"A quarrel," Darnath said, comprehending.
"What?" queried Divinia.
"A crossbow arrow," explained Tauridus. "Which means that Rogues were involved.

[This message has been edited by Falotar (edited 23 May 2001).]
 
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Falotar



Joined: 22 Jan 2001
Posts: 2579
Location: Yaro'on the Fair

 PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2001 11:46 pm    Post subject: Quest for the Blade of Ataros-Part I Reply with quote Back to top

"What I might have suspected of the vermin." Divinia sounded as if it was most unexpected.
Kliven pulled at Tauridus' sleeve. Gesturing, he pulled the Warrior over to the edge of the brush.
"What is it?" called Divinia.
"The wreckage of the Seventh Caravan," Tauridus called back grimly. Coming back, he said, "Hajens was right. The skeletons of the horses are still hitched to the wagon, and the skeletons of the escort lean up against it."
"We are not the first to be ambushed here," Darnath observed weakly.
"What shall we do now?" mused Tauridus.
"Go on, of course," Divinia said. Her tone grew icy. "Unless, of course, you go back."
"Y'u woll ell gu beck," said a disgusting voice. A tall goblin carring a battle-axe stepped from the trees. "Oi em Lurd Ethrij. Oi well privint y'u frum pesseng, sh'uld y'u troi."
"How many with you?" Divinia asked conversationally, drawing the Blade. Ethrij waved backwards, and ten Champions came forth.
"Really?" replied Divinia to the unspoken answer. "Yet you have not enough to defeat the Champion of Dauros. Energies of Light!"
Divinia swung the Blade up. Cascading through the Blade, rising from the gound, descending from the murky air, the light of her spell surrounded her, shielding her. The goblins rushed forward, but the weapons deflected harmlessly off the Shield. Divinia drove th Blade of Ataros into Lord Ethrij, slicing through armour and bone, and coming clean through the side. Drawing the Blade free of the corpse of the Overlord, she turned her eyes on the faltering Champions.
"Go!" she commanded. "Tell your King that the Champion of Dauros and her companions are coming, and that it will take more than a single goblin to hold them back!"
The Champions obeyed, and fled.
 
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Falotar



Joined: 22 Jan 2001
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 PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2001 1:23 am    Post subject: Quest for the Blade of Ataros-Part I Reply with quote Back to top

"Sor! Sor!" the goblin rushed into the High General's quarters.
"Wet os ot?" Polisk asked grumpily. Jagger had gone off to receive instructions from Cario, and he had been left to deswade the king from his mad course of action. Send ten Champions with Lord Ethrij, bah!- one Overlord was more than a match for a human. The extra goblins merely provided targets for the heroes. But, the High Priest had insisted, with his mumbo-jumbo about the "orders of Grum-gog". Bilge! Any goblin-
"Sor," puffed the messenger, "Lurd Ethrij hes bin kolt!"
"WEEET!" Polisk snatched the unfortunate goblin up from the floor. "END THI CHEMPO'UNS?"
"Anwayndid, sor," was the quivering reply. "Thi Peledon sint thim beck woth thi missege."
"GRAAAAARRR!!" Polisk tossed the goblin out the door. The little soldier scuttled off rapidly.

"I told you," whispered the High Priest. "These heroes are blest by Dauros. Only a large assemblage of our best goblins can hold them off."
"Nonsense!" blustered the High General, but even he had lost confidence.
"Well-" King Gurg broke off. There was a scuffling in the corridor, then Jagger burst into the room.
"Your Majesty," he practically sneered at King Gurg, "Lord Cario requires your presence AT ONCE in Valmorgen. You have two days. I will guide you there."
"GAD!" roared High General Polisk.
"Wait," said the Goblin King. "What do you say, Yxocers?"
"This is bad," whispered the High Priest. "Your presence is required in Valmorgen. Your army must be here." He paused. "Very well. Your Greatness, take half your army to Valmorgen. Leave the rest here, under the command of High General Polisk."
"What about you?" asked Jagger skeptically.
"Yeh, w'et woll y'u be du'ong?" Added Polisk.
"I will guard His Greatness' Tower till he should return," answered Yxocers quietly. "Me and my Order. We shall keep it safe."
"You had better," growled King Gurg.
"Come on!' said Jagger, impatiently.
 
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Falotar



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 PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2001 10:19 pm    Post subject: Quest for the Blade of Ataros-Part I Reply with quote Back to top

Darnath had just returned from another scouting trip. He sat down next to the campfire, and his face was pale.
"What is it?" Tauridus asked with worry. "Do you feel-"
"Just fine," interrupted Darnath. "What's making me pale is the goblin encampment I ran across. There must be hundreds of the vermin."
Divinia mused. "Even I might not triumph against so many. What will we do?"
Kliven stood. His head was bowed, and his hands were folded. When he looked up, his face was illuminated by a holy light.
"My friends and companions." The words came clearly from the Monk's lips.
"What sacrilege is this?" demanded Divinia, rising. "Kliven, you break your oath."
"Nay, my daughter, he keeps his oath. It is Dauros who speaks to you."
Divinia kneeled. "My God," she said fervently. Awestruck, Tauridus and Darnath also sank to their knees.
"I shall instruct in what you are to do. Tomorrow, go directly to the goblin city. It is a center of curruption, and a great threat to the order maintained in Ardania. Its ruler, King Gurg II, has plans to conquer all of this realm, from the Isle of Sydrian to Krolm's Anvil. Already, he has mustered enough force to lay waste the Central Plains."
"O Most Holy One," quivered Divinia, "How may we stop this vileness? It the goblins have such strength as you describe, what can we do against them?"
"I will go with you into the city. There is a tower there, which once belonged to a great archwizard. This tower is now being held by the unclean priests of my sister's servant Grum-gog. It is my wish that you cleanse this tower of evil."
"Were is this tower, Lord?" asked Tauridus.
"Nay," answered Dauros, smiling. He had perceived the Guildmaster's true intent. "It lies at the very center of the encampment. Be not alarmed! For I will guide you. No goblin will dare come near."
"And when we reach this tower?" asked Darnath.
"You shall see."
 
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Falotar



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 PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2001 12:36 am    Post subject: Quest for the Blade of Ataros-Part I Reply with quote Back to top

"Helt! W'uu goos thir?" the goblin guard squinted out into the darkness, where a light shone.
"Dauros has come." The voice was perfectly calm, and did not sound insane.
"W'et?" said the goblin in confusion.
"Dauros draws nearer. Stand aside, lest you anger Him."
"Bolge!" snapped the goblin.
"Join thy master, servant of Grum-gog," said the implacable voice of the God.

"I note that the goblins seem to be asleep," observed Darnath to the Lawkeeper as they glided through the camp.
"You may look upon that as divine intervention." There was a faint smile on Dauros' stern face.
"Tell me, O my God, what has happened to Kliven your servant?" Divinia expressed the desire of all of them.
"I have appropriated his body for Mine own usage. The good Elder is currently in the throes of another vision, which will clarify to him certain events which transpire in Valmorgen."
"Holy Dauros," said Tauridus timidly. "Is that the archmage's tower?"
The smile which had been hovering around Dauros' mouth vanished. "It is," He confirmed with a frown. "Now, as we have reached it, I shall depart from the body of My disciple. He shall still be unconscious, so the Ancient Warrior and the Scout will guard the Guide. The Champion shall enter here to contest the Priests of Grum-gog. Art thou ready, My daughter?"
"I am," said Divinia, kneeling.
"Then, I do hereby affirm thee as Champion of Dauros, Head of His earthly Church, and my beloved daughter." Dauros laid His hands on Divinia in benediction. Then the holy light faded from Kliven's body, and the features of his face reverted to their normal condition. He slumped slightly, and Darnath caught him.
"Well, go on in," said Tauridus. "And after you return, maybe you'll explain this 'Ancient Warrior' business."
 
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Falotar



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 PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2001 11:27 pm    Post subject: Quest for the Blade of Ataros-Part I Reply with quote Back to top

The ancient door creaked as Divinia entered the tower. It fell back into place behind her. She trod down the corridor, her steel-shod boots ringing a chalenge to its silent occupants. Suddenly she stopped. She heard a shuffling of robes bfore her, and a Goblin Priest appeared.
"Hail, Servant of Pestilence," said she, drawing the Blade.
"What have we here?" sneered the priest. "A Paladin?"
"Nay!" Divinia voice was suddenly overlaid with a multitude of other voices, so that it sounded as a choir in the heavens. "I am the Champion of Holy Dauros, and if ye value thine unclean skin, thou shalt stand aside!" As her voices reached a crescendo, the Blade of Ataros burst into light. The Priest of Grum-gog fell back, his arms shielding his eyes.
"Take it away!" he howled. "Mercy! Take it away!"
"Where doth thy master, the High Priest, hide?" she demanded sternly of the quivering priest.
"In the top of this tower!" screamed the unholy ecclesiast. "I beg you, in the Names of the Gods, remove this light!"
Divinia strode on, leaving the priest to cower in the darkness.
As the Blade of Ataros blazed in her hand, Divinia could see the flicker of red robes preceding her. As she came to the foot of the great staircase, she could see the winking stafftops of the resident Priests at the top of the tower.
"Prepare yourselves!" She shouted up at them. "The Champion of Dauros is come, to cleanse this tower of all vileness and corruption!"
"Who dares disturb the High Priest's meditation?" The question come not from the assembled priests, but from beyond them. "Who is this 'Champion', that she should dare defy me?"
"Come out," she called, lifting the Blade, "and thou shalt see!"
"Come up!" retorted the voice. "If you dare, come up!"
"Fool thou be, to invite the wrath of Dauros!" she cried as she advanced up the stairs.
"Fool yourself, girl, to enter the Domain of Pestilence!" The priests at the head of the stairs raised their staffs. An unhallowed chanting arose from them which tore at her mind. Wisps of illness seemed to drift around her; the priests' voices deformed her with their deseased touch. She saw her end: tortured, lingering, and looming terrible over all, the form of the Dread Goddess. The flame of the Blade dimmed and wavered. Divinia halted, the priests' unholy hymn reached a triumphantly discordant height.
Fear not, my daughter. The voice of Dauros pierced the sickness in her mind, and she clung to it. Be not afraid, for I am with thee.
"Begone, illusions of Death!" the ringing chorus of her voice dispelled the deseased echoes of the priests' incantation. "I fear thee not!" High over her head she swung the Blade. It seemed that the sun itself had entered into the tower as the handiwork of Ataros burst into light.
"No!" wailed the grouped priests. "We have failed!"
"Begone!" screamed the voice from within the room. "Ye have failed me once too often!"
The priests melted back into the shadows. Then the voice directed itself to her. "Enter, Champion of Dauros! I shall match ye, staff for sword, unholiness for holiness, darkness for light, pestilence for life! Enter and be done!"
Divinia began again up the stairs. "And I will match ye, steel for wood, cleanness for uncleanness, goodness for evil, law for chaos!"

[This message has been edited by Falotar (edited 24 June 2001).]
 
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Falotar



Joined: 22 Jan 2001
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 PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2001 11:08 pm    Post subject: Quest for the Blade of Ataros-Part I Reply with quote Back to top

Darnath's eyes peered nervously around the goblin city. It was cold out here in the darkness, but that was not why he was shivering.
"Are you sure those goblins will stay asleep?" he asked finally.
"Certainly." Tauridus was kneeling by Kliven, while Darnath stood guard. Personally, Tauridus didn't see the need for a guard.
"I admire your faith," returned Darnath in gloomy tones. "I wish-"
He was interrupted by a goblin's screams. "Take it away!" the voice howled. "Mercy!" Tkae it away!" The light which accompanied these cries was near-blinding.
"What was that?" Darnath whispered, pulling his hood across his eyes.
"Divinia!" said Tauridus, rising in amazement. "It sounds as if she's torturing someone!"
"More power to her," remarked Darnath drily.
"My friend, that's the closest you've ever come to a prayer this entire trip." Tauridus grinned at his friend, and Darnath bowed melodramatically.
"Prepare yourselves!" Divinia's voice was so clear that Tauridus jumped in shock, and Darnath glanced over his shoulder. "The Champion of Dauros is come, to cleanse this tower of all vileness and corruption!"
Then come the reply. "Who dares disturb the High Priest's meditation? Who is this 'Champion', that she should dare defy me?"
"Come out, and thou shalt see!"
"Come up! If you dare, come up!"
"Fool thou be, to invite the wrath of Dauros!"
"Fool yourself, girl, to enter the Domain of Pestilence!" The two heroes heard the deathly sound of the hymn, rising up like a fever, swelling like a tumor. Even outside, Darnath and Tauridus trembled to hear it. Then Divinia's voice cut across it.
"Begone, illusions of Death! I fear thee not!" Like a supernova, light burst forth from the dark tower.
"That's one good Paladin," muttered the Ranger to the Warrior.
"No! We have failed!"
"Begone! Ye have failed me once too often!" The voice was filled with rage, and touched by terror. Then voice said, shrill with its conflicting emotions,"Enter, Champion of Dauros! I shall match ye, staff for sword, unholiness for holiness, darkness for light, pestilence for life! Enter and be done!"
"And I will match ye, steel for wood, cleanness for uncleanness, good for evil, law for chaos!"
"My sword!" Tauridus swore, grasping the named item, "That is a Paladin!"
"Glad you noticed," Darnath said.
Enraged chanting came from the top of the tower. Then, "Energies of Light!" The entire camp was illuminated by that spell. Then the Goblin High Priest screamed in anguish and defeat.
"No! Do not desert me! Grum-gog, master! Nooooooo!" The towertop exploded suddenly, and the sky was coloured as if by an aurora. And, with that, the goblin town awoke.
 
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Falotar



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 PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2001 9:16 am    Post subject: Quest for the Blade of Ataros-Part I Reply with quote Back to top

"W'et's goo'in' un?" shouted Polisk as he emerged from his quarters in the Northern Fortress. He was not answered, the other goblins were dashing about in panic. Polisk, shading his eyes against the supernal light that played above him, glanced down to the Tower of Mathes. Then he raised voice, calling down imprecations on the goblin High Priest. The tower was on fire.

Divinia staggered out of the tower even as it burst into flames. She collapsed into the startled arms of Tauridus.
"What happened?" he asked her. She steadied herself, and shook her head.
"Later," she said.
"Company," warned Darnath, pointing out a group of goblins. Having gotten themselves into some semblance of order, the goblins were obviously eager to investigate the combustion of the tower.
"Let us go." The Paladin straightened her shoulders. Looking around worriedly, she asked, "Kliven?"
In answer a dark form arose from the ground.
"We're all safe and healthy," Tauridus assured her.
"We won't be for much longer unless we get moving," insisted Darnath. More goblins were organizing themselves; the first group was nearly upon them.
"Come," said Divinia. She turned and strode away. The others followed her south, away from the goblins and toward the great port city of Valmorgen.
 
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Falotar



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 PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2001 10:45 am    Post subject: Quest for the Blade of Ataros-Part I Reply with quote Back to top

CHAPTER 7: THE MINISTER'S ADVICE
The sun rose glorious that morning over the city of Valmorgen. Trumpets sounded from the walls of the Royal Palace, notifying all and sundry that it was time to awaken. Drums boomed in the North Quarter, signifying the rising of the Barbarians.
Cario Farin, Royal Adviser, listened irritably to the wake-up call.
"Why do they always have to toodle those things at the crack of dawn?" he demanded of Horman, who was standing at the west-facing windows of the room.
"What does it matter to you?" Horman asked without turning. The two were in Cario's study, Cario having risen early to work on a new tax law. "You're always up before daylight anyway."
"That doesn't mean I like hearing the royal trumpeters play an off-key fanfare every morning." Cario scowled at the back of the of the Captain of the Palace Guard. "Look at me when I speak to you."
Horman turned and bowed mockingly to Cario. "Yes, your Majesty." Horman sat in a chair opposite the Adviser.
"Ah, that will be the day." Cario leaned back in his green damasked chair, a smile flickering on his lips. Distantly, the sound of the drums reached him. "That will be the day," he repeated, "that all this noise will stop, and people will be able to concentrate."

[This message has been edited by Falotar (edited 29 June 2001).]

[This message has been edited by Falotar (edited 27 July 2001).]
 
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Falotar



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 PostPosted: Tue Jul 24, 2001 3:50 pm    Post subject: Quest for the Blade of Ataros-Part I Reply with quote Back to top

The great throne room of Valmorgen's Royal Palace that morning was slowly filling with the day's plaintiffs and supplicants, King Orophen's vassals and underlings, and several of the city's leading citizens. Common townsfolk were filing into a balcony on the left of the Grand Aisle; heralds and trumpeters took their positions in a similar balcony on the north side. The courtiers took their seats along the edge of the Aisle. A hush fell on the assemblage on the trumpeters played the Royal Salute.
"His Sovereign Majesty, King Orophen Valmor of the City of Valmorgen!" announced all the heralds in unison. The great eastern doors of the throne room were thrown open and His Majesty strode down the Aisle, attended by Palace Guards, the Chief Herald, and the Royal Advisor. Orophen climbed the stairs to the dais, turned, and seated himself on one of the twin thrones. The other was glaringly unoccupied, for the King had no wife. Cario took a chair to the right of the King; the herald a chair to the left of the empty throne.
Taking out a long scroll of listed names and items, the herald read: "'A letter from King Sassich of Shovrah-Dan.' Will the messenger come forward?" A gaudily dressed messenger whose clothes bore the royal insignia of Shovrah-Dan stepped forward. He pulled out a letter from somewhere in his vest, opened it and read.
"'To His Majesty King Orophen from His Majesty King Sassich: It has come to our attention that a new toll house has been opened on the Royal High between Valmorgen and East Cheswick. As this is the route most travelled by our caravans, we request that you remove this structure as soon as possible. Failure to do so will result in unfortunate conflict between our two countries. Signed, His Royal Majesty King Sassich Dan of Shovrah-Dan'."
"Tell him I don't like his threats, and that the toll house will continue to operate." Thus rebuked, the emissary bowed stiffly and stalked from the room.
"I never liked Sassich anyway," whispered the monarch to his Advisor. "Stuck up fellow. Still, I'm glad of the distance between our cities; I hear he can put quite an army behind his words."
"Indeed, Sire," murmured Cario in reply. Impatiently he wondered how long it would be before Jagger came in with his alarm. He had told his agent to bring the news of the approaching goblin hordes and exaggerate in order to cause panic and confusion among the defenders.
"'A letter from the king's brother, the High Priest of Willowby Sanctum'. Will the messenger come forward?" The Herald suddenly frowned. "No, wait. This is a private missive. How did it get on here?" Recovering himself, he said to the waiting messenger, "Take your messeage and deliver it to the king's chambers." The messenger bowed and left the throne room. The Chief Herald ran down to the next item. "'The Harbourmaster wishes an audience.'"
"Granted," said the king. The Harbourmaster stepped forward.
"Majesty," he said, "I wish to protest the closing of the port. It hurts our economy, Sire, to have only land commerce. Also the captains are beginning to mutter. The Elves, too, are threatening to remove their support from you if you persist in locking the wharves."
Cario quickly leaned over to the king. "Your Majesty," he said urgently, "do not listen to these jealous plaintants. They seek only their own profits, not the greater welfare of your kingdom. Your toll house collects double what your income was previously-"
"All right," said the king wearily. Looking back at the Harbourmaster, Orophen said, "Refused. Tell your friends the harbour stays locked." An angry muttering began in the visitors' galleries.
"Silence!" shouted the Herald sharply. He was ignored. An Elf stood in the balcony.
"You better open that harbour, Orophen!" he shouted down. "The Elven Alliance isn't helpless, you know, and you're certainly endangering your position! I warn you-"
"How dare you!" cried Farin, leaping to his feet. "Guards! Clear the galleries! Arrest that Elf!"
"Hold!" said Orophen in his turn. He pulled his Advisor back into his seat. "Who gives the commands here? Myself, or Cario Farin? Who is your king?" Everyone immediately became still. The guards, who had rushed to do Cario's bidding, returned sullenly to their places. The Chief Herald, badly shaken, held up his scroll again.
"'Fildur Bigsmash, High Chieftain of the Valmorgen Barbarians!'" he called down the Aisle. A large man, dressed in untanned animal skins and a great fur cloak, stood and walked down the Aisle.
"Your Majesty!" he boomed up at the dais. "I request permission for the construction of two more Temples to Krolm. Our population is expanding, and we need more space! As always, the completion of the new buildings will be marked by a great hun-"
"No," said Orophen coldly. There was an audible gasp from the assembled retainers and townsfolk; Bigsmash staggered as if he'd been hit.
"What?!" he roared incredulously.
"I said no and I meant no." The king turned an icy stare on his Barbarian. "Does your king's will displease you, Fildur?"
"No, no, of course not," said the Chieftain hurriedly. He turned his eye accusing to Cario, who pretending the Chieftain did not exist. "Of course not, your Majesty," he repeated and left the room.
As the Herald again raised the scroll, a scuffling was heard outside the room. In burst Jagger Tightfist, bedraggled, and with a bandage across his forehead.
"Your M-majesty," he panted. "Goblin-goblins have been sighted north of your town! A horde, Sire! The largest in Ardanian history!"
"Send the alarm!" said the king, leaping from his throne. There was a panicked stir in the visitors' gallery, with cries of "A horde!" "Goblins?" "The city is under attack!" The Herald failed to restore order, having fainted dead away. Instead, Cario Farin stood, and raised his hands for quiet. The noise died some.
"Your Majesty," he said clearly. "I now advise that you take our beloved Chieftain up on his offer, and erect the two new Temples. We will summon every hero in the area to aid us our time of need. Send messengers to the other Sovereigns of Ardania. Valmorgen must not-will not!-fall!"
There was scattered cheering among the audience. But Jagger shook his head.
"The roads-are blocked," he choked. " No one-can get through."
"Then we are doomed," said Cario. His face drained white, and he collapsed back into his chair.
 
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Falotar



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 PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2001 8:18 pm    Post subject: Quest for the Blade of Ataros-Part I Reply with quote Back to top

"It was the holy will of Dauros that we got through," snapped Divinia.
"And I insist that it was my pathfinding skills," returned Darnath.
Divinia, Darnath, and Tauridus were seated at a table in the Zephyr's Trail Inn. They had reached Valmorgen, and the first stage of their Quest was finished. Kliven was off to the local Wizards' Guild. Divinia, after conferring with her silent partner, had informed the other two that a Wizard named Lozol was destined to join their party. She had further said that another member of the group would meet them at this inn; when he joined them, their number would be complete.
"Let's just say that Darnath was helped by the Lawgiver," interposed Tauridus, "and leave it at that." Although the Ranger and the Paladin had grown accustomed to each other, they still sparred. The experienced Guildmaster knew it was to keep up appearances, more than any real dislike.
The door of the Inn banged open. In jumped a short man, wearing only a bark mask and a loincloth.
"Cultist!" hissed Divinia. Her hand went to the sword on her back.
"Now, now," Tauridus admonished. The Cultist stared wildly around the common room, then saw them. He hopped happily over, and plopped himself down across from Divinia He pulled a piece of rock candy from a pouch at his belt and tossed it into his mouth.
"Hello," he said to the flabbergasted Paladin, "my name's Tasty Rock. And yours?" Without pausing, he raised his voice. "Come out, Lunas, I know you're in there!" He untied his pouch from his belt and set it on the table. "I was named Taty Rock because I like rock candy, do you?" The proprietor, an ancient ex-Adept, came out from behind his counter, his lean face cracking into a smile at the Cultist.
"Hello, Tasty," he said. "What would your pleasure be?"
"One Hammer of Krolm, for me, and Elven wine for the lady." He grinned at Divinia.
"And for you, good sirs?"
"Er, two Cheswick sherries, if you please," said Tauridus, who glanced with lifted eyebrows at the Ranger. A Cultist and a Paladin?
The innkeeper paced off, stil looking very much like the quick-footed Adept of his youth. After he left, and Divinia had recovered her composure, she fixed her icy glare on the Cultist.
"What," she nearly growled, "is the meaning of this?"
"You didn't introduce yourself." The Cultist frowned. "That's bad manners."
"Dauros give me patience!" Divinia screamed, drawing the attention of the regulars. Seeing the explosive combination, they hurriedly paid their bills and left, to a man.
"Don't they teach you manners where you come from?" the little man inquired curiously. "In my home, Fenside, it was called, all of the children were taught their manners."
"Of course I know my manners!" shrieked the Paladin. "What about yours? Have you no respect, minion of Chaos? How do you dare, to come and sit by me!"
"I'm not sitting by you," the Cultist offered helpfully. "I'm sitting across from you."
Divinia bit her lip. She waited until some of the colour returned to her face.
"Now, Cultist, go back to your Temple-"
"I don't have a Temple," Tasty Rock interrupted. "The Queen Mother tore it down when Punctilious Cloudburst kidnapped the Crown Prince." Tasty Rock giggled. "It was so fun! Anyway, she kicked all the Cultists out of Valmorgen, and started building those nasty Temples to Krolm. She died, soon after."
"You abducted the Crown Prince?" Divinia demanded, aghast. "I'm sitting next to a kidnapper!"
"Not next to," Tasty corrected patiently. "Across from."
"Get out of here, and away from me!" shouted Divinia.
"Well, actually, I'm afraid I can't." Tasty Rock flushed. "You see, Daddy Fervus told me to meet here."

[This message has been edited by Falotar (edited 06 August 2001).]
 
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Falotar



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 PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2001 7:11 pm    Post subject: Quest for the Blade of Ataros-Part I Reply with quote Back to top

The day wore on in Valmorgen. Rumours were spreading out from the Palace about the impending invasion, and they grew in the telling. That evening, a villager stumbled into the Zephyr's Trail. He stood in the doorway, shivering.
"Hello, Indreth," called Lunas from behind the bar. "What ails you?"
"Goblins." The man swallowed. "Hordes of goblins are invading the city."
"Now?" cried the innkeeper, startled.
"Not now. Soon."
Tauridus looked up from where he was seated. "How do you know this to be true?"
"I-my brother was at the Palace when the news came. He told me about it." The man licked his lips. "I must go now-I've got to pack."
"Is it-so bad?" stammered Lunas.
"Worse." The man turned, and left the doorway. Lunas hurried over, and closed and bolted the door.
"Wait," said Tauridus.
"Sir?" said Lunas, turning to him.
"I have a friend out there. I expect him back soon."
"Who is he? I'll let him in when he comes."
"He's a Monk. His name's Kliven." Tauridus deposited a coin on the table, drained his mug, and got up. "Good night, Innkeeper."
"Good night, Sir Warrior."

In his room, Tauridus thought over this day's
events. Following the Cultist's revelation, Divinia had fainted. Tauridus and Darnath had had to carry her to their rooms. Tasty Rock had also ordered a room there; and there he spent the rest of the day. Darnath and Tauridus had taken shifts: one manning the common room while the other prowled the Marketplaces. Darnath had already turned in; he occupied one of the beds in the room. The room on the left was occupied by Divinia; and the one to their right-
"A Monk, a Pallid, a Warogre, yes, and a Rangy." The chamber on their right was occupied by the Cultist. From the words, muffled by the walls, Tauridus had gathered that the Fervusite was, indeed, meant to join their group. Tauridus wondered why Dauros would have chosen such a one, and he wondered even more why Fervus had complied. The ways of the Gods, he mused, were truly inscrutable. His musings were interrupted by the sound of feet and shuffling.
"This is your friends' room," came the voice of Lunas through the door, "and this room is yours. You'll be sharing it with that Paladin." The footsteps turned and left; Tauridus heard a door open and shut. Obviously, Kliven had returned.

"I can not believe it," Divinia hissed angrily. "Dauros would never use a Cultist."
"He has." Kliven's voice was firm. "Tasty Rock has a role to play, as do all of us."
"Dauros must be insane!"
"No, he is not insane. It is not the sane man, or god, who adheres strictly to one principle, but the madman. By his mere flexibility, Dauros proves his sanity."
"But you cannot bring together Law and Chaos!"
"Law and Chaos, Divinia, must not be confused with Good and Evil. There are bad laws; there is even such a thing as good chaos." The Monk smiled. "Though specific examples fail me. Unlike good and evil, Law and Chaos complement each other. If chaos were unlimited, it would die; for nothing can survive without limits. If Law were infinite, it would collapse under its own weight."
"So you're saying we should join ourselves with Fervus." Divinia spat the words at him.
"No, not join: ally. Take two countries: if they join, they cease to be two countries and become one. But, if they simply ally, they each retain their independence."
"I see." Divinia swallowed. "Well, Kliven, you've rammed the Ranger down my throat. Now, I suppose, you'll do the same with the Cultist." She smiled; a crack in the ice. "Oh well. I may be the Champion, but you are the real leader, Kliven."
The Monk nodded, suddenly frowned. "Now that you've accepted the Cultist, I have more disturbing news."
"What?" Divinia shouted.
"Hush," cautioned Kliven. "People are sleeping."
"What?" she said again. "Do we have to take a Templefull of Barbarians, too?"
"No. Once we have the Wizard, our group will be complete. There lies our problem: the Wizard is missing."
Divinia stopped herself from emitting another shriek. "Missing?" she whispered.
"Lozol the Herbmaster was last seen at the Faethon Gardens, three days ago." He breathed. "Using the powers of Dauros within me, I followed his lingering mystic trail to the Palace gate. The guards would not let me in. As I left for the Wizards' Guild, a Rogue left the Palace. Unintentionally I followed him; we both were going to the Guild. He arrived before me, and was closeted for hours with the Head Wizard. After he left, the Wizards told me very curtly to leave. I then returned here." He laid his hand on the Paladin's shoulder. "Divinia, I fear that something most sinister is transpiring in Valmorgen. Unfortunately for the plotters, it involves our Quest."

[This message has been edited by Falotar (edited 03 August 2001).]
 
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Falotar



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 PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2001 8:35 pm    Post subject: Quest for the Blade of Ataros-Part I Reply with quote Back to top

Once again, day broke over Valmorgen. This day, however, the sun looked down on quite a different sight. Barbarians had stormed the Wizard Towers which ringed the city, Palace and City Guards were fighting each other in the streets, and goblins were swarming over the outer Guardhouses. Cario Farin's treachery had come to a head.

"Open up in there!" shouted the leader of a group of four Barbarians. Another smashed down the door of the Zephyr's Trail Inn.
"What-why are you-" stammered Lunas, stumbling out of his quarters in the rear of the Inn.
"We're here to make sure you acknowledge King Farin's right to the throne," said the lead Baarbarian.
"But, King Orophen! What-ahhhhh!" The Barbarian slammed his club into the innkeeper's stomach, causing him to double over.
"Cario's seen fit to dethrone Orophen. All the loyal citizens of Valmorgen support him." The leader lifted his axe. "Are you a loyal citizen, Adept?"
"Ye-yes," wheezed Lunas, gasping with pain and fear.
"Stop!" came a woman's voice from the head of the stairs. Divinia stood there, the lesser Blade burning in her hand.
"We don't take orders from Dauros scum!" snarled the Barbarian. "Men, kill that Paladin, and anyone else who spouts such treason! Cleanse the inn!"
"Be cleansed thyself, cruel enemy of honour!" cried the Paladin, her voice once again taking on its multitonal quality. She practically leaped down the stairs, and faced the head Barbarian. The other were distracted by the sudden appaerance of another lodger: a Priestess.
"What is the meaning of this intrusion?" she whispered in a fell voice. "How dare you violate the sanctity of an Inn?"
"We dare anything we please!" retorted back one of the other Barbarians.
"The rules have changed, Sis!" another shouted. The three Barbarians not engaged with Divinia grouped themselves together, then with a cry of "Krolm!" they charged past the dueling couple and up the staircase.
"So-see-var!" intoned the Priestess. A blast of life-draining powert hit one of the Barbarians of the stairs, but the other two pressed on. One lifted his axe and brought it down on the Priestess. She parried the blow clumsily with her staff. The Barbarian then smashed his club into the Priestess's ribcage.
She fell bakc, whispered a final prayer, and dissolved into black mist. When it cleared, her empty robes lay limply on the floor.
"You called Sister Rigoria!" Divinia gritted her teeth at the high-pitched sound of their newest companion's voice. The Cultist appeared, throwing daggers like a miniature rainstorm. The Barbarian fell back under the barrage, though it seemed to do him little hurt. His companian charged at the little figure, but his descending club was parried by Tauridus' sword. The Warrior continued to battle the Barbarian, backed up by the knife-throwing Tasty Rock.
"Take that!" shouted the Guildmaster's foe, as he brought his axe and club down simultaneously. The axeblade shore the shield in two, and the club crushed the steel armour like parchment. Tauridus staggered backward, blood gushing from his chest.
"What's this, an unwelcome guest in the Inn?" An arrow thudded into the heart of the triumphant Barbarian, and Darnath tossed a healing potion to the bleeding Guildmaster. Tauridus caught the flask and swallowed its contents. His wound closed, though a nasty scar was visible through a rent in his tunic. The other Barbarian sank to the floor, succumbing at last to the Cultist's poisoned knives.
Down below, the lead Barbarian was fighting with his club alone, Divinia having cut the axehead from its handle. He was cut in several spots, but Divinia was yet unharmed. The Barbarian suddenly pulled his club back and smashed at the Paladin. Divinia twirled aside, and ran the Blade through the neck of her opponent.
The fourth Barbarian, pale as a zombie, rose from where the Kryptian's magic had felled him. He picked up his axe, but before he could wield it, Lunas struck his skull from behind. The aging man held a staff, a relic of his former profession. The Barbarian spun around, but Lunas swept the axe from his hand. Sweeping his staff back, he brought it up under the Barbarian's jaw. He fell again, dead.
The three heroes came down the stairs, Darnath supporting his friend. Divinia cleaned Ataros' sword with her white cloth, then slid it back into its scabbard.
"Well, are we all healthy?" asked the Cultist cheerfully, as they reached the foot of the stairs.
"All except me" said Tauridus, grimacing. He struggled out of his ruined breastplate, and held it up. "I suppose you don't happen to have a spare suit of armour, do you?" he asked the innkeeper. To his surprise, Lunas nodded.
"My father's suit is in my room," he said. "I'll lend you the breastplate, but I'll want it back. It's quite valuable, you know." Lunas disappeared back into the private part of the inn. When he came back, he carried a mithril chest piece.
"I see what you mean," said Tauridus, taking the ancient armour and buckling it on. "Mithril is extremely valuable."
"Take care of it," said Lunas.
"Oh, there's no fear it's being damaged. Only an R. Golem or a Dragon can destroy mithril. And maybe a volcano."
"I wonder where our Monk is?" pondered Darnath. In reply, Kliven walked calmly through the door. He moved silently other a water barrel behind the counter, measured out a bowl, and washed his hands in it. He then drew out a parchment sheet and a pen, and wrote down a message. He handed it to Darnath.
"'The city is overrun with goblins and Barbarians,'" read the Ranger. "'Only the Warriors are putting up a resistance, and they are badly outnumbered. The Wizards' hands are tied, because Cario is holding one of their members hostage. The Rogues and Elves both fight on the side of the Advisor, as do most of the Palace Guard.' Sounds like Valmorgens in bad shape," said Darnath, lowering the parchment. He looked over at Lunas. "I take it this Cario is attempting to take over the city?"
"I think so, from what those-those beasts said." Lunas replied. "In thought he was a loyal Advisor, but..."
"Companions," said Divinia, her gaze taking in Kliven, Tauridus and Darnath, but noticeably leaving out the Cultist, "we must try to save Valmorgen. The King of this sovereign city has been betrayed, and may be dead even now." Kliven shook hi head, he mouthed the word 'prisoner'. Divinia nodded. "He is held prisoner then, With him is Lozol, the captive Wizard. If this Wizard can be set free, the Wizards' Guild would be able to incinerate the traitors with lightning. Also, Kliven has informed me that this Wizard that Cario holds is vital to the Quest. So, for our Quest and the stability of Ardania, wqe must go to the Palace."
"I'll see if I can get some people to fight the Barbs while you rescue the King," offered Lunas.
"Good," approved Divinia. The former Adept dashed out the door, with a speed that would have startled even his dead fellows.
"Now," she said to the others, "to the Palace!"
"To the Palace!" they echoed, even Tasty, who added thoughtfully, "I hope they have some candy there. I'm out."

[This message has been edited by Falotar (edited 06 August 2001).]
 
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Falotar



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 PostPosted: Fri Aug 03, 2001 11:20 pm    Post subject: Quest for the Blade of Ataros-Part I Reply with quote Back to top

CHAPTER EIGHT: THE THREADS UNRAVELED
Chaos, to the apparent satisfaction of Tasty, run rampant in the streets. The heroes fought their way through a company of goblins, and Divinia hewed down a lone Barbarian who stood in their path. Just in sight of the Palace, the companions' progress was halted by a swirling melee of halberds and pikes.
Tauridus caught a Veteran City Guard by his tattered blue tunic, while Tasty beat back the red-garbed assailant with a hail of daggers.
"What's happening here?" Tauridus demanded of the Guard. "Why do you fight each other?"
"It all started when Yormoque tried to warn the King of the invasion."
"Who's Yormoque?"
"Captain of the City Guards. Anyway, he was met at the gate by Horman-Captain of the Palace Guard-who denied him entry. Yormoque tried to force his way in, but the other Palace Guards, they killed him. That's what started all the fighting."
"You don't seem to be making much progress," observed Darnath. The Guard shook his head.
"We outnumber the Palace Guard, but they are better trained."
"Tell me," said Divinia urgently, "is the Palace gate open?"
"After a fashion. The first wave of our assault knocked one the doors off its hinges."
"Thank you," said Divinia, though whether she refered to the broken gate or the information was unclear. She was about to say more, but screams interposed themselves.
A giant hellbear had appeared amidst the battling Guards. It tossed the Palace Guards to every corner of the compass, and the road was quickly cleared-as the City Guards had fled. The hellbear came shambling over to the heroes, then shrunk into the shape of a small man.
"Why didn't you tell us you could do that?" asked Divinia angrily.
"I didn't know that I could," responded the Cultist, with a look of pleased shock.
"Go get your fellow City Guardsmen," Tauridus instructed the Veteran. "Have them go to the defense of the outer city. We'll take care of the Palace."
"Very good, Sir," replied the Guard. He saluted the Warrior and went off to recollect the remains of the City Guard.
Kliven pulled compellingly on Tauridus' arm. When the Warrior turned, the Monk pointed to a Rogue who was scuttling along in the shadows. The figure stopped, and knelt beside a fallen Palace Guard. It then rose up, and continued toward the Palace. Kliven set off after him, and he beckoned the others to follow.
"Probably the Rogue Kliven saw at the Wizards' Guild," commented Divinia, as the four hurried after Kliven.
"What?" gasped Tauridus, whose heavy armour was slowing him down.
"No time! To explain; I'll do it later," answered the Paladin, who was having her own difficulties. They saw the Rogue slip through the splintered Palace gate. Kliven didn't pause, he kept right after the Rogue. The others followed his lead.

Jagger burst into Cario's study. The Royal Advisor was deep in debate with Fildur Bigsmash. In the corner, bound and gagged, sat the disheveled shapes of King Orophen and Herbmaster Lozol. The Advisor looked up from his argument as his agent came to a halt by the table.
"Well? How goes the revolution?" asked the traitor.
"Good, but not as well as expected." The Rogue pulled out another chair and collapsed into it.
"What do you mean?" demanded Farin.
"The Barbarians have takeb objection to fighting alongside goblins. The Elves have barricaded themselves in one of those seaside lounges because the goblins looted one of their Bungalows."
"I never had much use for Elves, anyway," said Cario. He turned his gaze to Bigsmash. "As for the Barbarians, keeping them in line is your job."
"Suppose I refuse?" growled the big Chieftain.
"Then you'll join our friends there," said the Advisor, nodding at the Wizard and his companion. "Besides, why not? I promise you that you'll still have Valmorgen."
"What's left of it," grumbled the Barbarian. "He cocked his head at the prisoners. "I still say you should put them to death."
"No, I've told you: Orophen gets a public trial and execution, and the Wizard gets released."
"He does indeed," said a woman's voice from the hall outside.
"Who-?" began Cario, turning in irritation. He stopped as the door crashed open, revealing Divinia, glowing sword upraised. Bigsmash leaped to his feet adn ran to attack the insolent Paladin. Divinia sidestepped, and the Barbarian Chieftain slumped back, a dagger in his heart.
Kliven strode smoothly into the chamber, pressing Jagger against the windows. With a blow, he smashed the Rogue's crossbow to kindling. A knife appeared in the Rogue's hand, but Kliven brought his own hand down on Jagger's wrist. There was a snap of bone, and the Rogue's hand dropped limply, the knife falling to the floor. Kliven smashed the Rogue in the chest, and the force of the blow sent Jagger through one of the windows.
Cario Farin stood, but found the Blade of Ataros at his heart. Tauridus freed the captives.
"Your plots have unraveled, Cario," said the King as he rose from the chair he had been tied to. The King glanced around the chamber. "You have rescued me and saved Valmorgen," he said to the heroes. "A reward of some kind is in order. But first, I must ask you to take this traitor to the dungeons, since my Palace Guard has deserted me."
"Speaking of which," hissed Cario, "The Barbarians are still under my influence, as well as the goblins."
"Not for long." Lozol had retrieved his staff from a corner. "I'm sure a few lightning storms in the right places will clean up the goblins, and a meteor storm or two will probably convince the Barbarians to see the light of reason." The Wizard lifted his staff and vanished.
"Teleported to the Wizards' Guild," said Darnath. "I guess you really are undone now, Advisor."
 
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Falotar



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 PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2001 8:26 pm    Post subject: Quest for the Blade of Ataros-Part I Reply with quote Back to top

Several days later, the companions-this time including Herbmaster Lozol among them-were reposing in the Zephyr's Trail. The King had rewarded them grandly for their aid in defeating Cario Farin's treachery. Tasty Rock had a new set of enchanted mithril daggers (as well as a fresh supply of rock candy), Tauridus now wore his own suit of mithril armour, and Darnath had bow and arrows of Elvish make. They all were equiped with Rings of Protection and Teleportation Amulets. They had also, as additional reward, been granted their own ship, and Lunas had pbligingly hired a crew for them.
"Well, then," said Lozol, he paused to pull at his mug. He was entertaining the citizenry of Valmorgen once again with his tale of how he had singlehandedly galvanized the Wizards' Guild into saving the city. "Well, then, I teleported right into Headwizard Huranthell's chamber, and he starts, and says: 'Lozol! How did you get here?' And I said: 'I was rescued by a bunch of heroes-'" here the old Wizard nodded at the others-"'and I came here as quick as I could. How goes the battle?' Then he said, 'Well, eight of the Temples to Krolm have gone over to Cario, one refused to fight alongside goblins. The Elves turned against the Advisor when the goblins looted their favourite Lounges and Gambling Halls, and the sailors are defending the harbour agasinst all comers. All in all, it doesn't look to hopeful for the King, even if he has been rescued.' 'Well,' says I, 'well, why don't we do something about it?' So we went down to the place where we manipulate the Bellanus Orb, and we shot a shot Lightning Storms at the goblins. They ran, what was left of them, then we started to lightning bolt the Temples of Krolm right down into the ground. Then I," here he paused for grand effect, "I teleported down into the midst of the disorganized Barbarians, and personally killed old Hammerfist, who was Bigsmash's second-in-command and who was leading the Krolmites in Bigsmash's absence. Anyway, with Jagger, Horman, and Bigsmash dead, the goblins defeated, and Cario Farin locked up, the remaining Barbarians surrendered and the rest of the city was cleared up." He finished his ale, while the patrons applauded him. The ancient man set down his mug, and made a magnanimous gesture at the other heroes. "Of course, I could never have done it they hadn't set me free." Lozol indicated that his mug be refilled, and he lifted it. "A toast!" he proposed in his quavery voice. "To Divinia, Tauridus, Darnath and Kliven of Mayhew, and to Tasty Rock of our own fair city!" Everyone lifted his own cup, and drained it to the health of the named heroes.
The rest of that evening was spent in recounting the adventures of the past few days: the execution of Cario Farin, the Barbarians being thrown out and repolaced by Priestesses, and the recruiting of a new Palace Guard. Slowly the regulars drifted away, leaving only the six companions.
"Well," said Tauridus, "we've saved Valmorgen and defeated a goblin horde. Now we have our ship. I suppose we'll set sail in the morning?"
"Yes," said Divinia, "tomorrow we sail for the Isle of Ataros. May Dauros grant us a safe voyage."
"And Fervus!" chimed in Tasty, who was munching on his candy. Divinia pretended not to hear him.
"How do you know that's the name of the island where the Blade is?" asked Darnath.
"Kliven had another vision last night," the Paladin replied. "Dauros showed him the Isle, and how to reach it."
"So!" said Lozol excitedly. "To think I actually got chosen to go on a Quest! By the gods!"
"By one god, actually," said Tauridus mildly before Divinia could explode.
"Two," corrected Tasty absently.
Divinia held her arms up supplicatingly, and looked at the ceiling. "Dauros give me patience," she intoned. Darnath clapped a hand over the Cultist's mouth to prevent him from answering. The Paladin brought her arms and gaze back down, and said, "Yes, indeed, we are all fortunate to have been selected for this Quest. Now we should sleep, for tomorrow begins the next leg of our journey."

This ends Part I of the Blade of Ataros. Part II, The Isle of Ataros, continues the tale.
 
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